New Scottish health secretary has a real opportunity to tackle the core problems in NHS, say UNISON

UNISON, Scotland’s largest health union, is calling on the new Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson MSP to take urgent action on staffing levels in NHS Scotland.

In a letter sent today (Thursday) to congratulate him on his appointment as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care the union also say that NHS Scotland is in crisis and NHS boards are being asked to deliver more services with less financial resources.

The UNISON letter says: “We believe that the NHS is in crisis. Across Scotland NHS boards are being asked to deliver more services with less financial resources. We note with interest that some opposition parties feel that structural reconfiguration of the NHS is the answer. We do not necessarily support that approach – however, we would be clear, we do not support the status quo either.

With a new First Minister and a new Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care there is a clear opportunity for Scots to work together and develop a consensus for our NHS. That consensus must be grounded in the founding principles of our NHS, free to all at the point of need, with services provided by publicly employed workers working within public sector structures.”

Chair of UNISON Scotland health committee, Wilma Brown said: “Mr Matheson’s appointment represents a real opportunity for this government to tackle the core problems in our NHS. The workforce want to see real action on short staffing to reduce waiting lists and real investment to ensure the NHS is fully funded to deliver services the people of Scotland need.”

UNISON Scotland head of health, Matt McLaughlin said: “UNISON had a positive and constructive working relationship with the First Minister when he was Health Secretary. Whilst we are looking forward to developing the same constructive relationship with Mr Matheson our members demand that their government pay them fairly and give them the tools, services and staff they need to deliver NHS services for the people of Scotland.”

Notes to editors: UNISON is the largest union in NHS Scotland representing 50,000 NHS workers across Agenda for Change including: nurses, midwives, managers, domestics, porters and admin workers. The union has membership in every health board in Scotland. Agenda for Change (NHS terms and conditions) cover most health workers in the NHS apart from doctors and dentists.

Read UNISON’s letter to new Health Secretary here:

UNISON Scotland contacts:

  • Wilma Brown, health committee chair: 07974 027847
  • Matt McLaughlin, head of health: 07904 341979
  • Danny Phillips, communication officer: 07717 715277 / 07944 664110